Thursday, February 16, 2006


Bertie bows to pressure over MPs

Well said Caoimhghin I was pleased to see Sinn Féin's Dáil leader Caoimhghin O Caolain take the Taoiseach to task over his disgraceful backtracking over plans for an All-Ireland Oireachtas forum involving MPs from Ireland's north.

Mr O Caolain claimed Bertie Ahern had capitulated on the issue due to pressure from Fine Gael and Labour to shelve the proposals.

"This is a capitulation of the highest order and it undermines Mr Ahern’s ability to adequately stand up for the rights of all citizens on the island of Ireland," he said.

Mr O Caolain said Mr Ahern now wanted to water down his proposals to allow MPs to appear at Oireachtas committees which limited them to the same billing as dozens of lobby groups.

Mr Ahern earlier told the Dáil that several political parties had difficulties with the original proposals, which had been recommended by the All-Party Committee on the Constitution in 2003.

However the Taoiseach denied that he was abandoning plans to allow Northern Ireland MPs to have a role in Oireachtas debates.

He said: "I’ve listened to what everybody has said and I’ve taken account of the views of all the parties.

"I accept that several parties have reservations about the proposal so I’m currently considering those responses and have an opportunity to come back with a different proposal.

"It’s obvious that the House will not agree to anything other than Northern parties coming to the committee to make normal presentations and discuss issues in committee. That seems to be what the end point is so I will come back with that suggestion."

Mr O Caolain told the Dáil the revelation by Mr Ahern alarmed him.

"I am disquieted, to say the least, that you are now considering something which is much less than the thrust of the committee’s recommendation, namely an accommodation involving existing committees outside the Dáil chamber which amounts to the same access that any lobby or interest group can avail of," he said.

"It is absolutely reprehensible that the Taoiseach now appears to have caved in to the partitionist demands of Fine Gael and Labour.

"This is an appalling capitulation by the Taoiseach and raises serious questions about his integrity on this very important issue."

But Mr Ahern said he hoped his amended proposals would be in line with the All-Party Committee report and consistent with the Good Friday Agreement.

"I’m trying to frame a proposal that sticks with those principals," he told the Dáil.

"I’m not abandoning it and I don’t intend to. I have to take into account the views of the parties. I don’t intend to abandon it."

I agree with Caoimhghin O Caolain. This is a capitulation. It's not the first time the Taoiseach has capitulated in the face of pressure over important nationalist principles. A little over a week ago I documented how the Taoiseach had snubbed the idea of people in the North voting in Irish Presidential elections.

I thought Fianna Fáil were a Republican party? Only when it suits them I guess.

Fianna Failure
You have messed up, Bertie

Northern MPs deserve the right to speak at the Oireachtas. They are Irish men and women and are regarded as citizens of the Irish nation. Why then are they being rejected?

Get your act together, Ahern. You are disgracing Fianna Fáil (further, anyway) and this will not do your political legacy any favours.

Right this wrong at once!


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